Dead gray whale washes up at Portuguese Beach

Clark Mason, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

A series of dead whales has washed up on Northern California beaches over the past five weeks.

A dead, juvenile gray whale washed up on the Sonoma Coast this weekend at Portuguese Beach.

The 28-foot whale appeared to have been dead for some time and was in a state of obvious decomposition, according to California State Parks Ranger Damien Jones.

He said the carcass came ashore Friday night or Saturday morning. The Marine Mammal Center took a tissue sample in an attempt to determine cause of death, but it did not to appear to be from trauma, he said, such as being struck by a ship.

Jones said State Parks did not plan to remove the whale from the beach, which is about halfway between Jenner and Bodega Bay. He said the tide could carry it out to sea again.

“Generally we leave dead and sick animals where they are and let nature take its course,” he said.

May is the tail end of the gray whale northern migration from their breeding and birthing lagoons in Mexico back to their feeding grounds in Alaska. Although thousands of whales make the approximate 5,000-mile journey, including the newborn calves and their mothers, some of the cetaceans, especially juveniles, are believed to stay closer year-round to a more confined area.

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